Commentary: Mitsubishi Eclipse….As Another Crossover?

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors North America



To the collective groan of, frankly literally anyone who has heard the news, Mitsubishi brought back the Eclipse…as a crossover.

Mitsubishi did acknowledge that they are playing off the name of the extremely popular sports car which sold 1.8 million units over it’s 23 year lifespan, so it’s not like they’re trying to hide it. Then they tried to justify it with some hot trash about the astronomical origins of the name and how the car’s lines reflects said astronomical event to justify the naming conventions. Nobody is fooled. Really, it’s just Mitsubishi trying to capitalize on the Eclipse moniker. Hoping that since people will remember the Eclipse fondly, it will translate into better sales for the new truck.

This feels really gross but it isn’t the first time a brand has gone about doing this in the past. The issue at hand here, while most companies at least attempt to have some common theme with their naming, Mitsubishi honestly doesn’t give a shit. Now, this isn’t me blasting Mitsubishi because I don’t like them. Honestly I really want to like Mitsubishi. They have the potential for really great stuff, it just seems that they’re in serious fiscal trouble and they’re panicking to get back on track. What they should do is calm down for 5 seconds and follow Mazda’s lead.

Mazda was hurting for a while in the late-1990s. Their name was being tarnished by sharing bland platforms with Ford and as a brand they were suffering from the collapse of the bubble economy in Japan. To fix the situation, what Mazda did was simple business 101. Focus on brand identity. For example lets look at the Mazda 626. The final generation 626 had the powerplant of a Ford Probe and was “A bland, bread-and-butter sedan that’s not big enough for families and not sporty enough for enthusiasts” According to Edmunds. The solution? A really well executed redesign, they lobbed off 2 numbers and called it a Mazda 6. The results? “the Mazda 6 should add a dash of zing to your daily commute.” again quoting the same reviewers at Edmunds. How did they do it though? It wasn’t a lot, they gave it some really attractive bodylines, tightened up the suspension, offered a manual transmission that felt really good and they didn’t just put the manual in the base model either. The thing is, the Mazda 6 isn’t even a great car in the grand scheme of things, they just made it noteworthy.

This is the era of the turbocharger, Mitsubishi should be on fire right now.

What do you think when you think Mitsubishi? Of old, Mitsubishi makes fun normal cars, bulletproof off road trucks and some really great turbocharged platforms. This is the era of the turbocharger, Mitsubishi should be on fire right now. The WRX/STI and Ford ST cars are on the lips of every reviewer. Off roading is more popular than ever. People everywhere miss Mitsubishi, not only are they missing the boat right now, they’re committing seppuku.

It’s not like were asking for something ridiculous. We’re not saying “Make a GT-R fighter! Make it under $30,000!” Were just asking for them to make something that deserves the Mitsubishi name. There are no mini-trucks of note in America right now, they could bring back the Mighty Max give it the 2.4L 4B12 or the 6B31 V6 from an Outlander or make an off road worthy SUV and market it against the Wrangler.

In my opinion, I would bring back the Starion since the Eclipse name is ruined now. Use the Nissan IDX concept and offer a small cheap RWD/AWD sports car. Give it a rev happy little turbocharged engine, offer a stripped down base model with a price under $20,000 so it’s attainable by millennials. Make some solid lease incentives and market it to us as a retro car. We LOVE retro things, look at thrift stores, retro videogames, the concept of a video arcade that serves beer.

Whenever I would show any of my non-petrolhead friends my old Honda CRX, they think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. “They made that and it was affordable?” is usually the response. Some guy in a suit said that millennials don’t care about cars because we don’t buy them. I am a millennial and I will say this is NOT the case, we just don’t have the option of one. If we want a sporty car our options are something that is eligible for collector plates or something that is totally out of budget. A cheap fun car that is less than $200/month for a lease would get people in the door and guarantee they can sell crossovers for the rest of time.

Historically, this was Mitsubishi’s territory. They would make fun cheap cars with alright quality. Did you have a minuscule budget but want a sporty 2+2? There was the Eclipse. Look how cool you were getting 35 mpg and fooling everyone into thinking you’re AWD Turbo. Mitsubishi, They’re at a turning point, Mitsubishi could be a Mazda, they can return to greatness. They obviously have the money to do it, they’ve designed yet another bland crossover and they are in a partnership with Nissan now. They could lean on Nissan’s catalog and build a car that has brand identity. The thing is, this truck will probably sell just fine but it will be at the expense of future prosperity I fear. I don’t want to see Mitsubishi become the Japanese Oldsmobile. Mitsubishi, please don’t take your great names and sully them by trying to fool your customers into getting a third variant of an Outlander.

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